Copyright N.Lebar @oldsoulworks
How beautiful, the grove of weeping willows at the lake’s shore, towering ancient giants, gentle giants, always so gentle with my wounded heart and soul, always there for me, calming me, their beautiful green – or yellow, or brown – tresses delicately sweeping the grasses and pathway between the street and the lake.
They are ancient, and I am old. Old, old… so old; even though I don’t know how old I am, they know – we can sense each other’s oldness, that familiar stench of having lived through and been witness to so much that can not be put into words. This familiar stench is what draws us of this ilk one to another; it permeates the air around us like the delicate morning mist that sometimes weaves itself in between the willows’ wispy twines and leaves and so gently coddles them; like the invisible mist that permeates old ones’ eyes, hearts, souls, and draws us one to another.
I have told the giants my secrets (the most secret of secrets), and of my fears (the paralyzing fears), and of my sadness (the terrible, savage sadness that plucks the tear drops from deep inside, before they have even made their way to my eyes) – yes, I have told them these things which are too heavy to speak of to another human – the weight might crush bones, and I must hold safe the special humans in my life.
The willows wait for me, and listen without judgement; they wait for me to visit after I’ve had my morning coffee, or after I’ve done the household chores, or when my heart is on the verge of bursting…
They hold me, keep me safe like an old friend would, as I struggle and flounder with this savage life-change I have been forced to make and endure.
And after unspeakable pain and strife, after four long, long, unbearably long and painful years, I emerge from the abyss, hands still gripping the hundreds of fine angel-winged, spider-webbed roots, and back into the world. It is done.
I tell the willows. They listen. I tell them that I have had to let go of what I loved so deeply. That it ripped me apart. But that the stitches are now almost dissolved, and I’m healing, slowly, slowly. That there is some infection and a few complications that will stay with me always, but that it’s okay… that I have come to love this new me, this new life…. that I’m living in a different house now which thankfully is still at the lake’s shore, and near them, my beloveds. I’ve left the old me behind, and am standing at the top of the hill, surveying the landscape of my heart, the map of my soul.
I tell them that it has taken two years to unpack: to unpack my belongings, to place them in the new house, to get rid of so many things that would not fit (the grand piano), and find new replacements; to unpack the baggage – the what, the why, the how, the where and the when of it all; to unpack my knotted-up heart and wounded soul (to let them unfurl like a flag that has been tightly folded for too long); to unpack the trauma. The trauma unveils itself one layer at a time, messy, thin as gossamer, floating weightlessly, covering everything so that I have to always peel back a layer just to find an object or to complete a mundane task. Or to even have a thought. Or to breathe.
I tell them that I’ve learned that sometimes we have to let go of what we love; that love isn’t enough, and sometimes, it isn’t even love. That there are a million different behaviours, words, familiarities, manipulations, embraces, kisses, that can masquerade as love. That quite often we can’t see clearly; we’ve got glaucoma of the heart and of the soul and of the mind, but the disease grew so insidiously we continuously adjusted in thousands, no, millions, of microscopic degrees, like the lenses going click-click-clack on the optometrist’s wheel – which one is better, 1 or 2? 1, or 2? 2 or 3? 3 or 4? – and so were always unaware of it… unaware of its startling progression. Or, if there was some awareness deep down in that darkest, most hidden part of us, then we unconsciously supressed it. It was not possible to disentangle from the all-enveloping web; not possible to imagine that surgery was necessary.
I tell the willows that I am just one now, and am afraid that one day torrential rains will come and uproot them… that in the morning I’ll find them on their sides, their massive root systems standing upright like giant umbrellas tossed by the wind, portals into another world that I cannot enter; leaves wilting, soon to dry up forever. They tell me to not worry of such things; that they will always be there for me, that I will always be able to visit them: old souls never die.
painting by @patrickstgermain
Copyright N. Lebar @oldsoulworks